In response to Open Thread #39
Comment author: ELW 26 October 2017 11:05:18AM 1 point [-]

I have a query regarding DALYs which I've been unable to find an answer too, but suspect there is literature on were I more familiar with econ/global health:

By my understanding one of the main advantages of DALYs is that they capture the intuition action in cases like "You may extend either person As life by 5 healthy years or extend person Bs life by 5 mediocre years (lets say they go blind due to the treatment)."

However, there seems to be no way of distinguishing the case where person A and B start of as perfectly healthy and we may help the former more and the cases where B is already blind and we may add "five years at their current state of well-being". This seems to not be ideal.

Is there any talk or use of "marginal DALYs" for want of a better term, where the intervention is considered relative to the previous level of wellbeing? Alternatively, is it simply common practise to use QALYs in the kind of case I am concerned with?

Comment author: Rick 19 September 2017 06:56:23PM 0 points [-]

Sorry to fixate on this, but I've just never seen non response rates this high before - 10% is high in most cases of surveys, 40% is absurd. Like, yes you always have groups who feel like the answers don't accurately capture their reality, but given that you did allow for multiracial answers (and given the homogeneity of EA from a race stand point), this usually would be only a very small fraction of respondents. There's also the population that, for lack of a better term, "don't believe in race" and never answer this question, but given how small this population is in general, unless an absurdly high number of them are EAs then this should also only be a very small fraction.

I really, really hope this isn't the explanation, but I could see at least some of these answers coming from the perspective of "I don't think race is a problem in EA, and people should stop asking about it, so I'll just not answer at all as a protest or something." As someone who sees data collection as sacred, I would be appalled by this - so please, someone, for the sake of my sanity explain what could possibly drive a 40% non response rate that is not this.

Comment author: ELW 19 September 2017 10:09:44PM 1 point [-]

I wondered if the oddly high portion of refusal to answer was ideological, too. I hope this isn't the case and inclined to think it's unlikely; though there seem to be some EAs who are wary of questions regarding this kind of diversity, as they reject it is something to be tackled within the movement, I would not have thought that proportion (or rather the proportion who hold the view to the point of refusing the data altogether) would be as large as this.

It feels rather optimistic to suggest this is an issue of categorisation e.g. though the answers on race were not exclusive, which would be obviously problematic, most race sections on this type of survey that I'm used to have a more fine-grained response options. However, it seems even if this were an issue it ought not cause problems for such a large proportion of respondents.

It's maybe worth noting the comparative proportion of respondents who did not answer political leanings (42.7%). If nothing else I think the number of people who refused response on race would be more bizarre/worrying if there was a very high response rate on everything else. My first thought was that refusal to answer on political leanings is likely idealogical (wariness of EA being especially associated with any specific political position) but on second thoughts I wonder if this is more likely to be a category problem? (It may be that people are reluctant to select "other" because their political stance is subsumed within left/right/centre etc, but they feel it is not well described by these options...? However, I'm not confident how likely this is and do not have a background in the intricacies of data gathering - unlike, I assume, those and ReThink who put this together.)